When is a Facebook friend really a suspect?


Do your children have Facebook “friends” who are about to become suspects?

Nowadays, every cop on the street has been to a call or taken a report involving social media. Ask any officer who is assigned to a school detail or sexual assault detective and they’ll have plenty of stories that will make your jaw hit the floor that involve some type of social media.

About two years ago, I was dispatched to an assault and battery call in one of our run down neighborhoods in the northern part of the city. When I arrived, I spoke to a sixteen year old girl, who had been drinking.

“What happened,” I asked.
“This guy punched me and left me here.”
“Who is he?”
“I met him on Facebook.”


One day she got a friend request from someone she had never met before. Rather than ignore it like I would, she clicked on the accept button.

She then started messaging this male who she had never met before. After a while she agreed to go to a party with him.

A day later he picked her up and took her to the party, which was at some unknown location. There were two other females in the car with them. Once at the party she started drinking. Of course, her parents had no idea where she was.

When they finally left the party he was supposed to drive her home. As they were driving the girl noticed they were going the wrong way. She told the suspect this, but he pulled to the curb and told her to get out.

She refused and told the suspect to take her home. She didn’t want to get stranded in this strange neighborhood at night. He again told her to get out. She pretested and refused to exit the vehicle.

Apparently he had enough. He got out of the car and went to the passenger side where she was sitting. He opened the door and dragged her out of the car. He then punched her in the face as he kept telling her to get out.

When he was done hitting her he got back into the car and drove away, leaving her on the side of the road at midnight.

I asked the victim if she knew his phone number or where he lived. She had no information on him except for what was posted on Facebook. No license plate number either.

I asked to see his Facebook page to try and get some information about him, but she didn’t have a phone. She had an iPod instead, which was at home.

I drove her home and explained to her mother what had happened. The mother was a Spanish speaker and I had to use a translator to assist me. She seemed concerned, but she had no idea who her daughter went with tonight.

I stood in the living room while the victim went to her bedroom to get her iPod. She returned from the bedroom and handed it to me. The suspect’s profile page was showing. I saw his picture and his name. Below the name were the words, “Add Friend.”

I showed her the iPod and said, “He unfriended you already.” That didn’t take long for her to be kicked to the Facebook curb of “unfriended” status.

She took a look at the iPod and was shocked to see they were no longer Facebook friends anymore. Not that they were ever really friends in the first place.

I left the apartment shaking my head at the ignorance of this victim and her mother. Neither one of them really saw the problem here. They just didn’t get it. They didn’t understand how bad things could’ve ended up tonight.

Watch out for your kids!

Stayed tuned for my next Facebook story…….


Layered Jello

Have you ever thought a train was going to hit you?

I see “Car Accident Stress”  every night at work. It’s usually the feeling of the unknown after the collision that the driver feels. Or it’s how a person reacts to what just happened. Over the years I’ve seen all types of reactions to car accident stress.

Every once in a while someone’s reaction stands out more than others. Last night was one of those times.

When I arrived, I saw the aftermath of a two-car rear end collision. Both vehicles were still in the street, blocking traffic. One vehicle’s front end was smashed and there was fluid all over the road.

Both vehicles were stopped next to a railroad crossing. This particular track is very active with trains going by all the time.

The first driver I spoke to was calm and told me a tow truck was already on the way.

The other driver was still sitting in her vehicle. I walked up and noticed she was crying. She had minor damage to the rear bumper of her Ford Expedition and I wondered why she was still crying twenty minutes after the crash.

I then asked her what happened.

As she started talking the railroad lights and bells started ringing as it singled the approach of another train. The railroad arms came down inches from the front of her vehicle. Thirty seconds later a train blew by us at 50 miles per hour.

Between sobs and tears, the woman told me she was driving down the street when the railroad lights came on as she approached the tracks. She stopped and was then rear ended by the truck behind her.

The impact pushed her forward onto the tracks where she came to a stop. After the collision she looked to her left and saw the headlight of the train coming toward her.

Now, that’s not something you hear every day.

“You actually saw the train’s headlight?” I asked.
With an even louder sob she replied, “Yes.”
“What did you do?”
“I backed up,” she said between deep breaths and tears.
“Wow. Did the train honk its horn?”

This woman seemed like she was going to need some major counseling after tonight. She truly had the look of fear in her eyes and her body language was basically JELLO now.

From training classes, I know that it takes thirty seconds for the train to get to the crossing after the lights and bells start sounding. I also know that it takes a while for the train to start back up again after the emergency brakes have been applied.

This all made me think she really wasn’t that close to getting hit by the train. Plus she was able to back up before the arms came down.

She was an emotional mess so I thought I should give her those facts to put her mind at ease. I figured it was the least I could do since she was now JELLO.

I tried explaining it to her, but it didn’t help. I thought I’d get a smile and a deep sigh of relief.

Instead, she cried louder and the sobs were bigger than before. She went from being solid JELLO to runny JELLO. Kind of like JELLO that gets left out all day long at a picnic on a warm summer day.

Now the poor girl couldn’t drive her vehicle out of the street. I had to get her father to move the car to a parking lot.

After the street was clear I drove to the parking lot to ask her one final question. She wasn’t crying anymore, but she had the thousand-yard stare now. I felt bad for her because she truly thought she was going to die in fiery ball of death.

There was nothing that I could say to make her believe the train really wasn’t going to smash her car into little pieces. All of this was probably made worse every time the train passed by.

One thing is for sure after last night. If she ever has a son there won’t be any train sets in her house.

My Car Failed Me


We all have a certain patrol car that we like to drive. Ask any patrol cop and they’ll tell you their favorite car number.

Mine is 779.

I’ve been driving unit 779 so long the seat knows when Daddy’s home. On my work days it seems like I spend more time in that car than in my own house.

Through all the good and bad times, 779 has never let me down. That is until this past Wednesday night.

It failed me.
It stranded me.

It made me ask a few questions like:

“What did I do to you?”
“Haven’t I treated you well?”
“Don’t I get you washed?”
“Don’t I go over speed bumps slowly?”

It’s not like I treat the car like a dirty girlfriend.

The other night at about 2:30AM I decided to write some parking tickets before EOW (End of Watch). When I left the station I noticed the alternator light was on. No big deal. I was going to write the tickets and then put the car out of service when I got back.

As I drove to my target location I noticed that my lap top wasn’t charging even though it was on the docking station. Then the unit radio started turning on and off.

What could happen next?

I drove into an alley and saw about fifteen cars parked on both sides. Add the trash dumpsters to that equation and a fire truck would have a hard time negotiating the alley.

I parked my car and left the engine and head lights on like I always do.

I started to fill out a ticket and noticed the engine was making an unusual noise. Not to worry, the shift was almost over.

After I wrote the second ticket I turned back to the car and saw the head lights had shut off. Not a good sign.

The engine didn’t sound so good now. Maybe I should’ve just stayed in the traffic office for the last thirty minutes of my shift.

I got into the car and the unit radio had shut off. I might have a problem now.

There was no way I could drive the car in like this. I decided to turn the car off for a minute or two just to see if that would help.

I wrote the third ticket and then went back to the car to start it back up. I turned the ignition and all I heard was clicking.

It was almost as if an unseen force was trying to prevent me from writing parking tickets that night.

I then had to make the dreadful radio transmission for a tow truck.

“784, my car just died and I need a 926.”
“10-4, 784,” replied the dispatcher

A patrol sergeant got on the radio and said, “2S1, send a unit to stand by with 784 until the 926 arrives.” I appreciated that because you never know in this neighborhood.

After a few minutes I decided to try and start the car again. I wasn’t willing to accept defeat. Plus, I didn’t want to wait for the tow truck.

This car had never let me down so why start now.

I sat in the car and turned the key again as I said, “Come on.” With a lot of hesitation, the engine started. It was alive, but in critical condition.

I turned the lights on and saw they were dim. Probably as dim as my hopes of making it back to the station. The unit radio was off, but I didn’t need it now. I needed the car to move.

The car was on emergency power mode and I was going to have to baby it on the way in.

See, 779 would never fail me.

“784, my car is possessed. It just started up again. You can cancel the 926. I’m going to limp the car back to the station.”

With a feeling of relief I started driving westbound through the alley. I started to turn onto the street when the dashboard lights went out. The car died and it silently rolled to a stop. It just shut off.

The car threw in the towel.
It raised the white flag of surrender.
It rolled over and played dead.

Now I was blocking an entire street and the alley.

With a feeling of defeat I keyed my pac set and said, “784, start the tow truck again.”

I put the car in neutral and pushed it back a little so it wouldn’t block the street. Why couldn’t I get stranded in the parking lot of a 24 hour Starbucks instead?

My car had failed me, but at least it wasn’t 100 degrees in the summer time.

The tow truck arrived and 779 was loaded up. I got a ride from another officer and my car was then sent to “time out” to be fixed on another day.

The next day the car was back and the alternator was fixed. I had full power and I was back in business.


The transmission failed me.

Maybe unit 779 will have a better week when I come back from my days off. If not, unit 780 might be my new number one. Just kidding. 779 is my car. At 48,000 miles, It was just having a midlife crisis.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

I should have a frequent customer card for people. I could punch it every time I run into someone. Actually, every time someone runs into them.

Tonight I was at a crash involving two cars and a person. The two cars were parked facing the same way, which were next to each other. There was a guy named David in the driver seat of his car with his door open.

He was under the dashboard trying to change a fuse with his cell phone as a flashlight. His feet were outside the car.

While he was under the dashboard he heard the vehicle on his left start up. He tried to close his door, but he was too late.

The vehicle next to him sideswiped the door and ran over his foot. It’s pretty safe to say I have never taken a crash like that before, but that’s not even the best part of the story.

While I was speaking with David he told me I had taken a report for him before. I asked him what happened.

“It was a hit and run,” he said.
“Were you the good guy or the bad guy?”
“The bad guy.”
“Did I arrest you?”
“For what?”
“For hit and run and for lying to you.”
“Oh, what a small world,” I said. “So, how’s it going?”
“Good. I paid the fine. I’m on probation now.”

This isn’t the first time this type of conversation has happened to me. After all these years it’s still funny to run into past customers. I later looked up the report and found the incident.

The crash happened in December of 2012. He crashed into a median while exiting the freeway. He was unlicensed and sober. Basically, a very easy report except…….

David committed a hit and run on the freeway. He was trying to get away from the victim at the time. Unfortunately for him he was going too fast and crashed. He had the bright idea to report the car stolen afterward.

The cuts to his forehead and hands didn’t help his story either.

After separating David and his passengers I was able to figure out he was lying. Despite all of this, David went to jail still saying he wasn’t driving and his car was stolen.

At least he finally admitted to driving two years later. Better late than never.

Sometimes it’s a small world in this job. You never know when a past customer is going to get run over.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Taking my son on a ride along


How many people can take their son to work?

I’m lucky enough to have a job where my kids want to go to work with me. My son, Michael got to go on a ride along this past Friday night. He sees spending ten hours in a police car with dad as an adventure.

As we walked out to my patrol car, I could see the spring in his step. He was ready to go and expected to see chaos at any moment.

Every officer knows that a busy and exciting night for a ride long means paperwork for the chauffeuring officer. A boring night for a ride along means a nice and relaxing shift for the same officer.

There’s such a thing called the “ride along curse.” The curse means that nothing happened and the night was boring for the ride along.

Michael has no idea what the ride along curse is. Each time he has gone it has been busy with us going call to call. After the first ride along he told me he wanted to be a police officer.

Friday night was busy as usual. We went non-stop from 5PM to midnight before things calmed down. There were a couple of things from that night which stood out as funny.

At one particular traffic accident, I had to get into the ambulance before they transported the driver away. I told my son to stay with one of the officers. He said, “Can I go? I’ve never been inside an ambulance.”

Most parents would be glad their child has never been inside an ambulance, which was why it was so funny to me when he said it.

We walked over to the ambulance and I got inside to speak with the driver. I let my son come inside and stand on the first step so he could listen.

We left there and responded to another injury accident. This time he got his wish to go Code 3. I heard, “This is cool,” coming from my passenger side as I passed cars on the wrong side of the road.

After that we went to a call involving a baby who was choking. The location was close so I headed that way with my lights and siren on.

As I came up on stopped cars in front of me,  I started to slow down. That’s when I heard this tapping sound coming from inside the car, but I didn’t know what it was.

I passed the stopped traffic and came up to an intersection when I suddenly slammed on the brake. I decided at the last moment to turn left instead of going straight because it was going to be faster. I heard the same noise again.

I then asked my son if he was stomping down on the imaginary brake pedal on his side of the car. He laughed and said yes. Now I knew what the noise was.

We arrived at the call just as an officer advised over the radio that the child was breathing. We got out of the car just as the ambulance and paramedics arrived. There was nothing for me to do so I walked back to my car. Michael looked like he had been cheated because we were leaving so fast.

Moments before he was stomping on his imaginary brake pedal while going to a choking baby call and now we were leaving. He wanted to see more action.
There were other calls after that, but after four reports and three Code 3 runs later, I had to do paperwork. I decided to head to the traffic office so I could type.

The first question out of his mouth was, “How long are we going to be here?”
I replied, “As long as it takes.”
“You mean an hour?”
“I don’t know.”

He was like an alarm clock, because an hour later he asked if I was done. I told him not yet. He started pacing around and then asked, “Can I help you with something?” I laughed and told him I had to do the work myself.

An hour after that I heard, “I’m bored.”
I told him doing reports was the other side of police work that people don’t see.

I put him out of his misery and we went back outside for one last drive around. I stopped by a donut shop and got him some fresh donut holes.

We then cruised down one of our major highways. At one intersection he asked, “Is that where the boy died?”

He knew the story from a few months ago when my partner and I performed CPR on a ten year old boy at a crash. I was surprised he remembered the intersection from when I showed him during another ride along.

The shift was finally over and I drove back to the station. My son mentioned waiting around for something else to happen. I told him our night was done and it was time to head in.

Once in the back lot, I unloaded my gear and parked the police car. I turned in the key and changed to go home. As we walked out to my car my son told me how much fun he had tonight.

On the way home Michael told me he wasn’t tired yet. We talked about the night and the crazy stuff people do to get into trouble.

We pulled into the garage and we were back in our little world, which was far from the one I work in.

He had fun that night and I hope he appreciates what he has compared to other people. I’m glad I was able to give him a peek into a world that most people will never see or know about.

Right before he went to bed he gave me a hug and he said, “Thanks for taking me tonight.”

It made me smile because I knew he meant it.

The Zombie Almost Got Me


As an officer, dealing with dead bodies is part of the job. Every first responder has a dead body story. Some are more unusual than most.

I had one dead body call that was different for sure. It was so different, I can still picture it like it was yesterday.

Way back in the day, my FTO and I were dispatched to a dead body call at a mobile home. The fire department originally  responded to the location for a medical aid call. They ended up finding a possible suicide instead.

When I walked into the mobile home there was a musty smell like the windows hadn’t been opened in years. It was just stagnant air mixed with dust. There was a cluttered look about the place where things were stacked everywhere.

The decor of the place made it seem like I traveled in time to the late 1960s or early 1970s.

The deceased elderly woman was sitting in a recliner with an old knitted blanket covering her. You could see the outline of her body under the blanket with her hands on the chair’s arm rest. The only thing showing was her feet and lower legs from under the blanket.

There was a bottle on the end table that was tipped over with some pink pills spilled out.

I pulled the blanket off of her head and she looked dead for sure. Her head was tilted to the right and her eyes were closed. At least she wasn’t staring at me and there was no smell yet.

There was pink drool on the right side of her mouth and chin. The pink drool had the same color of the pills that were spilled on the end table.

After I was done looking at the body, I covered her back up and sat down at the kitchen table to write my report. I called the coroner and waited for him to arrive. My training officer sat at the table with me as I started my paperwork.

It was pretty quiet except for the occasional radio transmission.

Being new, it was a little weird to sit in a stranger’s home while you waited for the coroner to take their lifeless body away. Even more so when she was sitting in her chair next to you like she was taking a nap. Except she had a blanket covering her head like she was hiding.

It was deathly quiet when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Did I see that right?

I looked toward the dead body and saw something moving under the blanket where her left arm was. My FTO and I almost jumped out of our chairs as we quickly turned toward the body.

It looked like the woman’s left arm was moving under the blanket!

Adrenaline shot through me as I wondered what was going to happen next. The arm started moving more and more. Was the dead woman now a zombie coming back to life?

Just as the zombie was ready to attack, this little kitten poked its head out from under the blanket where the hand was.

I won’t lie, I let out the deepest breath ever. I remember my FTO doing the same.

It was the funniest thing in the world and the biggest sense of relief too. Who would’ve thought the kitten was spending its final moments with her?

When I started my shift that night I had no idea I might be eaten by a zombie.